What’s in a name?
Last week Off Beat bride posted an article about keeping your name once you are married. My current surname is Fowler, it was passed to me by my father who I don’t get along with and am not in contact with. That may be reason enough for many women to abandon their maiden names when they get married, but for me I don’t associate Fowler with my Dad, I associate it with my mum and sister – our little all-female family unit. I also associate Fowler with my Dad’s relatives; my Uncle, Aunt and cousin; my long-gone but fondly remembered Grandad and Grandma.
Walton is my husband-to-be’s name. As in “Good night John-Boy”. For me, that doesn’t have quite the same ring to it as Fowler, especially when paired with my first and middle names. Fowler is the name I am known under professionally, I already own the .com domain, the Walton domain is already taken.
Is it too frivolous to decide whether to take your husband’s name based on whether or not the domain name is available? After all, many people choose their child’s name in that way!
There was one event has made me seriously question my choice of name. Before Andy and I were engaged, a few years ago, I attended the 70th wedding anniversary of Andy’s grandparents’ marriage. Sitting in that room and with this couple that had been together over so many decades, and had brought up a family of four children and 12 grandchildren just had me in awe.
I come from a family of divorcers, probably due to the argumentative, contrary and formidable women that my family produces. At that anniversary dinner I saw that the Walton name stands for commitment; commitment to marriage and commitment to family.
It’s only later that I realised that each of those formidable women from my family history all took on their husbands’ names too, probably with just as good intentions. So, perhaps… it doesn’t matter?
One excellent argument for taking your husband’s name is so you have the same name as any children you have. I remember finding it bizarre when I was younger that children in my class would not have the same name as their mum (even more bizarre when they had a different surname to their siblings!). If you don’t plan to have kids then maybe that’s not a big deal, but I do so it’s something I want to consider.
What if I went for double barreled, and my offspring then married another double barreler? They might end up as Walton-Fowler-Smith-Clark, that could carry on for generations until you have someone with 32 or more surnames all joined together into one!
Traditional feminists out there may say that by taking my husband’s name I am reinforcing the notion that a wife is “owned” by her husband. But then my maiden name comes from my father so maybe that suggests I am still “owned” by him? All I know is anyone who meets me will know immediately that I’m not owned by any man.
Still, I cannot decide. Walton? Fowler? Walton-Fowler? Push them together and get Waller? Abandon them both and go for Sparkle?
Right now my instinct is to have them all. Keep my professional name and take on the wedded name. My identity is not rooted in one name – after all I’m already known as Christina Sparkle, XtinaSparkle, and a number of other variations across the web; what’s to prevent me having more?
I won’t be offended when we receive a letter to “Mr & Mrs Walton”, neither when I receive a letter to “Ms Fowler”. They are both for me. Both names make up part of me and I don’t want to lose out on any of those parts.
The only time I would object is if I receive correspondence to “Mrs Andy Walton”. What is that about? I’m taking his surname, not his first name too! Now that does feel like ownership.
So I shall be the woman of many names. That might raise some legal issues and make me a suspect of fraudulent activity but pah! Who cares about that?